Tenant facing eviction after sharing fire safety concerns
A RESIDENT of a sheltered housing building in Walthamstow has been threatened with eviction after ‘raising concerns’ about fire safety.
Waltham Forest Echo reported on the eviction fears faced by Roy Sutton, who ‘became frustrated at the lack of action’ that Waltham Forest Council had taken to tackle ‘dozens’ of fire safety flaws at Goddarts House. A fire risk assessment (FRA) was undertaken in May this year by Ridge for the council, with the company finding that the property was at ‘moderate risk’, and that ‘essential action must be taken to reduce the risk’.
Among the report’s findings were that 41 remedial actions were necessary, including adjustments to self closers on flat doors, replacement of damaged smoke seals on communal doors, and repairing the fire alarm system, which was not installed correctly. In turn, fire procedure notices around the building had ‘inappropriate wording’, so residents were ‘unaware of the correct actions to take’ in a fire.
The news outlet had seen a copy of the FRA, and Mr Sutton requested to see a copy using a freedom of information request, after he had become concerned about ‘faults with the building’s newly-installed front doors’. He hired an independent expert to assess his own flat door, who found damage to seal strips, faulty self closers and uncertified hinges.
Mr Sutton stated that ‘the door is a total failure. It should close on its own but it doesn’t. There’s no label of certification. The door closers need to be repaired and the hinges replaced’. However, after this he was served with a Notice of Seeking Possession, ‘the first stage in eviction proceedings’, which claimed that he had ‘breached’ his tenancy agreement.
He added: ‘The council rarely answer when I call but they said I am harassing them and threatening them. There was a meeting with officers and I told them I had tested a sample of the PVC. Now they have sent me an eviction order and given me a month to move out. They claimed I set fire to my door and they put it in the meeting minutes, but it’s not what I said – it’s false.’
Since he received the notice, London Fire Brigade (LFB) visited the house, and the council claims that LFB ‘found nothing of concern with the fire doors’, in contrast to the FRA’s findings. Louise Mitchell, cabinet member for housing, said: ‘The health and safety of our residents and tenants is always a top priority. London Fire Brigade has visited the site and not raised concerns around the fire doors at Goddarts House.
‘The inspection that the resident arranged was purely visual. Some of the items marked as missing or not present are not even features of this particular model of door. A visual inspection is not an adequate substitute for an in-depth assessment of the equipment. The doors are rated as fire resistant up to sixty minutes, which is above the regulation standard of thirty minutes. We conduct regular inspections of all our properties to make sure that tenants are kept safe.’